We had no intention of stopping in Brussels in our original plans, but we realized that we needed to change trains in Brussels when traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. So why not have a two night layover? Back in 2009, we hosted an exchange student that was from Belgium. Part of sending your kid (Kimberly) on a Rotary Exchange to France means hosting a student from one of the European Rotaries. Armandine spent her senior year in Logan and lived with us for a few months in the spring semester. Two years ago, she came back to Logan and we got to visit with her. Currently she is finishing a master’s degree in environmental science and development (saving the world kind of stuff) and will be doing her internship in Peru. She has become quite the world traveler, but took time to train in to Brussels to spend the afternoon with us. Most importantly, she made sure that we had proper Frites (killer double fried french fries with special sauce(s) dribbled on top) and proper Belgian Waffles (not the touristy stuff). And yes, both are really yummy…and good for you…..NOT. Here is a shot of us with Armandine:
She’s got the Andalouse sauce and I have the french fries.
Probably the coolest thing we did in Brussels was visit the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum). This is more of a history of musical instruments and ethno-instrument museum than what I expected or wanted. I hoped that they would have vintage string instruments from the master luthiers, but no. They did have some cool stuff on hand, however. Being interested in the brasses, I happened upon a couple of early instruments worth mentioning. The lowest of brass depicted the underworld during the period of music between say, 1600-1800. What better way to show it than with a serpent’s head. The first pic is an early trombone with a serpent head instead of a bell. The second is called “The Serpent” and was a precursor to the tuba:
Sorry about the sideways thing, but the mouthpiece is on the left, the “bell” is on the right. I have also seen the bell as a serpent head, much like the trombone above. Apparently, no one cared for these instruments. Here is a pic of an actual chandelier made from “Serpents”. Pretty cool, eh?
Candles would be placed at the top brass mouthpiece area of the lamp. Finally, I can’t resist posting a pic of a quote. Moog Synthesizers were some of the first mass produced synths that were used in recording music, especially rock and roll, back in the day. Moog himself never thought that synth’s would replace musicians. How wrong he was. Hey Bruce Fallis, this quote is for you!
And here is an original Hammond B3 organ from Chicago:
Armandine took us all over the city and showed us several sites/sights. Of course the palace is right in Brussels, and the queen was an avid painter and violinist. She was great pals with Pablo Cassals as well. Here is a gift she rec’d from a friend that Liz’s Mom will appreciate: one of only two signed manuscripts in Belgium that are attributed to Bach.
And the palace:
The EU headquarters is based here, apparently because Belgium was one of the original 3 countries to start the EU in process:
Here is a view from just outside where we stayed:
And the Comic Streep convention was on the palace grounds this weekend. This is Comicon as we know it in the US, which was happening all over the world. This pic is for Kim and Ethan – people at the convention, in the park all doing the same thing: looking for Pokemon. If you don’t know what this means, trust me, you’re better off:
On Tuesday, we took the high speed TGV train to Paris. This bullet train goes about 180mph. I have never traveled this fast on land, and I’m here to tell you, it is cool. We paralleled the freeway at times and passed cars and trucks like they were standing still. It only took 90 minutes, and we stopped in two towns along the way. We picked up a car in Paris and somehow drove to Monts in the Loire Valley. Today is our first day here. But that is another blog post……